February 19, 2016
Careers in the media don’t look like what they used to. 30 years ago when I was a teen and I wanted to work for the BBC, I had to apply for a job by filling out a mammoth paper form and posting it to London. I applied for 15 different jobs, I got rejected for all of them.
When it came to trying to get into TV Presenting, I would save enough money up to be able to pay a cameraman to film and edit a showreel for me. Then I’d save some more money to get 20 VHS tapes of the showreel copies, so I could post them out to production companies and agents. Needless to say I didn’t hear back from anyone – maybe I wasn’t that good, maybe an African-Caribbean face on a TV screen wasn’t deemed to be attractive enough by the Powers That Be. And come to think of it, the only black people on TV regularly were Newsreaders, Moira Stewart, Sir Trevor Donald and top notch Comedian, Actor & Writer, Dudley-lad Sir Lenny Henry. There was no place for me, it seemed.
Since then the world’s changed, and TV is slowly catching up in terms of diversity. I look for it every time I turn on the TV. And I must admit, it’s getting tiring. Because for me the pace of change, of improvement, of fully reflecting British life and all the inherent beauty of it, is way too slow. When I turn on my telly I’m hoping for a snapshot of the real Britain – from the News, to Factual programmes, to the adverts even. And I’m not really seeing that yet.
Of course, I’m not saying every show has to feature an 80yr old Muslim woman, a young Sikh lad in a turban, a Chinese paraplegic and a young black woman in every corner to ‘tick’ diversity boxes. But reflecting society needs to be something that’s cared about, not just done because someone’s told you to fill a quota. I’d like many more TV Execs, Casting Directors and other Decision-Makers to stop with the All-White world already. Because it just doesn’t make sense when the majority of people step outside their front door and don’t see an All-White World. And so many people still watch mainstream TV day in, day out.
On telly I look for more women on the Question Time Panel or Panel Shows like HIGNFY. I look for people of colour reporting the News and Current Affairs, I look for young people, people of differing faiths, religions & abilities (be those physical, mental, hearing or seeing). And I look for people of different classes and income levels. I personally want to hear their real life stories, or see them depicted in a fair, honest and balanced way. But the upshot is that British TV doesn’t seem to adequately reflect the beautifully mixed nation that we are. Either onscreen or behind the camera, in those key production, development and decision-making roles. Without a breadth of people onscreen, or being part of the storytelling process, the whole nation is being cheated because we’re not learning about others around us, we’re not seeking deeper understanding of people who aren’t like ourselves. Knowledge is power and once we know more about who we live amongst, we can’t begin to get on with one another.
The digital world has kicked the goalposts of what it takes to have a career or job in the Media into orbit. Any person who’s dissatisfied with trying to get a job in this industry or be on the telly, and anyone who’s got enough chops and chutzpah (and anything else that starts with a C) can do their own thing and smash it. By delivering their unique talents onto the world’s biggest TV station – YouTube. There are no rules. You don’t have to write 15 applications to the BBC to be rejected (but if you do, the option is still there). You don’t have to beg for the right to be seen by TV Boss or a Casting Director. You don’t have to send away a script and wait for approval for someone to shoot and edit your story. You don’t have to be ignored. You can go out there and do it. Shoot and edit a video on your Smartphone and put it online. You can find your own audience and earn money from it to boot. Nirvana. Just make sure your content is interesting enough for people to want to watch in their thousands!
Just take a look at some of my personal favourites from YouTube. I think they’re all telling fun & entertaining, insightful and moving stories, in their own unique way
The future of diversity is right there. So soon diversity debate will be dead in the water. It can’t come soon enough for me TBH. Question is, do the Hirers and Firers have the will to catch up? And if they do, will they ever truly be able to…
by Marverine Cole @TVMarv host of #RethinkMedia
In the last 20 years of her media career, Marverine’s worked for many of Britain’s most watched and listened to TV channels & radio stations. An alumni of BCU’s PgDip in Broadcast Journalism, Marverine’s a multi-award-winning Journalist, who’s presented over 3,000 hours of live television & radio programmes for the BBC News, ITV News, Sky News and QVC, Britain’s biggest shopping channel.
Over the last decade born and bred Brummie, Marverine has inspired, mentored and trained scores of aspiring journalists and media professionals. She recently launched Ready For TV, a one-stop advice zone for wannabe broadcasters, offering video blogs of free advice, and bespoke mentoring if required.
To meet Marverine and hear a lot more from her, register clicking here
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